Rather than holding a straight up-or-down vote on the Senate-approved package to extend payroll tax cuts and long-term unemployment benefits for another two months — a package they oppose — House Republicans now plan to effectively reject the measure without having to cast “no” votes.
“House Republicans are setting up a vote on whether to go to a conference with the Senate. They say a vote to go to a conference with the Senate would serve as a vote against the Senate bill. Critically, however, it would be expressed as a vote in favor of going to the conference, and not a vote against cutting the payroll tax.”
Or, as Politico says, “House Republicans postponed a planned Monday night vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax cut bill, bowing to pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers to fight the battle in a fresh media cycle, avoid a dark-of-night vote and, perhaps most important, find a way to reject the Senate bill without voting directly against a tax cut.”
The vote is expected to happen around midday.
As Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been saying in recent days, Republicans in the House (which they control) want the extensions to be for a full year, not two months. They don’t want to just “kick the can” down the road, he says.
Getting any extension done before the payroll tax cut and long-term jobless benefits expire on Dec. 31, however, may prove impossible. The Democratic-controlled Senate has adjourned for the holidays. And Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said his chamber won’t negotiate with the House unless the short-term, two-month extensions are passed first.